Award-Winning Books graphic novel Middle Eastern Literature Reading Themes

To Avenger Or Not: Books 5 and 6 of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel

Myra here.

One of my greatest frustrations last year is that I only managed to read 23 graphic novels. I am glad to share that I am making good progress this year with 16 comics read, and it’s not even halfway through the year. One of the things I naturally caught up on is Kamala Khan’s journey as a super-hero, because it also fits our current reading theme quite beautifully.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous

Written by: G. Willow Wilson Illustrated by: Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona, Nico Leon
Published by: Marvel, 2016 ISBN: 0785196110 (ISBN13: 9780785196112). Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2016)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

In this edition, Kamala finally got her wish. She is now officially one of the youngest members of the Avengers team:

Naturally, all of these things come with a cost – especially since she is still in high school, with all the school requirements, projects, etc that come along with it.

Navigating her way around being not just a superhero but part of a team of superheroes is very challenging as can be noted in Kamala’s missing out on way too many things, with Bruno finally moving on and having a girlfriend, being one of them:

This one broke my heart a little bit. What made this instalment work for me, though, was how it managed to tackle so many relevant things in such a spot-on manner: such as the growing gentrification of so many places in the US, questioning people who appear like they do not belong (translation: non-White), and ridding the place of “undesirables” – sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

In Kamala’s desire to be at so many places all at once, incapable of saying no to anything, she unwittingly created an even bigger disaster, no thanks to Bruno’s scientific genius, with an army of Kamala-clones stomping around Jersey City:

What struck me most was how Kamala had to figure out for herself what her boundaries are, her non-negotiables, discerning what she should prioritize, and ensuring that she remains whole and present among the people who truly matter to her.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II

Written by: G. Willow Wilson Illustrated by: Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona
Published by: Marvel, 2016 ISBN: 0785196129 (ISBN13: 9780785196129)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

This must be my favourite part of the series among all the six books I have read. Probably because the reader gets a deeper insight into Kamala’s family background – her foremothers who were voyagers, left a land that is beloved and familiar to them, to find a new home somewhere far away – not just for survival but also for greater prosperity:

This level of cultural rootedness and authenticity and depth is what I have been looking for in the previous instalments of the series, but I also understand that it is Kamala’s present, her here-and-now as a teenage Pakistani-American Muslim superhero that was being portrayed in the initial volumes.

In this series instalment, they tackle yet again something that I found to be quite the moral conundrum: the notion of predictive justice and whether crimes can truly be prevented by acting upon the motive and the seeds of an idea before they come into fruition. A team was created specifically to carry out this predictive justice, with Kamala having a posse of sidekicks to implement brute force if needed to prevent crimes from occurring. However, if people haven’t committed a crime yet that they are contemplating on doing, does that necessarily make them a criminal?

Somehow, it reminded me of this episode in the TV series Grimm where Nick Burkhardt had to catch a baby-eating creature named El Cuegle, who turns out to be munching on babies who would grow up to become monsters and serial killers, because the El Cuegle is cursed with the knowledge of what would happen in the future: kind of like Kamala Khan’s predictive justice, too.

What broke my heart again in this volume, though, is Kamala’s growing estrangement with her best friend, Bruno – which led her to “find herself” and figure out exactly who she is meant to be, by going to Karachi, her parents’ hometown, to establish some sense of groundedness and direction:

More than anything, I am looking forward to finding out exactly where this series is heading – and I also can not wait to see what Kamala Khan would be like as a woman. Reading about the strength and fortitude of her maternal ancestors shows me that there is still much about this young lady that we have to yet to discover.

If you don’t have this series for your young readers, trust me when I say that you are missing out on a great deal.

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